20110912 whisky uk
An employee at Diageo's Dalwhinnie distillery views a whisky in the visitor center on April 21, 2011 in Dalwhinnie, Scotland. - 

Steve Chiotakis: Today we found out exports of Scotch whisky from the U.K. topped $2.8 billion for the first half of this year. That's a 22 percent increase over the same time last year, despite an economy that's -- on the rocks.

From London, here's the BBC's Kate McGough.

Kate McGough: Whisky accounts for a quarter of Britain's food and drink exports, with around 569 million bottles exported in the first six months of this year.

Paul Walsh is the Chief Executive of Diageo, a company that makes around a dozen brands of whisky. He thinks it's the global appeal of whisky's high-end image that's kept people drinking throughout the financial crisis, not a collective drowning of economic sorrows.

Paul Walsh: In many markets around the world scotch is seen as combining the wonderful attributes of authenticity, heritage, provenance; together with a lifestyle product, it's something people aspire to.

That seems to be the case for Asia and South America. Exports to emerging markets like Taiwan and Brazil were up by more than half over the year. But the biggest market for premium Scotch whisky is still the U.S.

Shipments have jumped 14 percent since 2010, despite uncertainty and stalled consumer spending over the same period -- a fact the beleaguered U.K. economy would like to raise a glass to.

In London, I'm the BBC's Kate McGough, for Marketplace.